Dutch architecture studio OMA has unveiled the School of Science and Sports at a historic college in Brighton, which merges academic and athletic facilities in one building. The linear block, which is located alongside Brighton College's main playing field, is OMA's first sports building and its first major project at a secondary school. The building contains facilities for both sports and science departments as the college's headmaster wanted to break down some of the barriers between departments. "Our brief was to find a way to connect the sciences of chemistry, physics and biology with the science of sport," "Buildings can either break or enforce a silo mentality [between departments], and here Ellen has broken down silos."
The majority of the building's sports functions are on the ground floor, with the science department's classrooms on the upper floors. On the ground floor the building's entrance, which leads to an atrium with a cafe, is located under a portico supported by angled steel pillars. From here the sports facilities are arranged along a corridor with the double-height gym, weights room and the offices of the physical education department all having glass walls that have views across the sports field. At the end of the block is the multi-purpose sports hall, which has also has two fully glazed walls and opens on to the adjacent sports field. In the basement there is a swimming pool and changing rooms for indoor and outdoor sports. There is also an underground carpark in the basement that is accessed by a lift.
Above the sports facilities, wide stairs lead to the science department. On the first floor there are classrooms and laboratories arranged around the double-height spaces below, along with a cinema room. A wide staircase with stepped laboratories alongside it leads to the second floor, which contains the rest of the science school's rooms. "It was important to provide additional spaces that are not formal educational spaces, they are informal breakout spaces," said van Loon.
All of the laboratories have full-height glass windows that look out onto the playing field and all of the rooms have glass walls alongside the corridors. "Instead of making an atrium we created a fluid trajectory through the building, that means that you get to experience all its functions as you go up it," explained van Loon.
The building is topped with a roof garden that overlooks the school and the playing field that it runs alongside. The School of Science and Sports stands opposite a row of terraced houses, and the building is a "modern interpretation" of these facades. "The inspiration for the facade was the regular rhythm of the typical terraced houses opposite," she continued.
Client: Brighton College
Services engineer: Skelley and Couch
Structural engineer: Fluid Engineering
Landscape: Bradley-Hole Schoenaich
Fire engineer: The Fire Surgery
Sustainability: Eight Associates
Employers representative: Gardiner & Theobald